Tag Archives: contamination

Dirty diaper causes short-lived concern in Eagle Harbor

It appears that a dirty diaper is what led to concerns last week that Waterfront Park’s beach may be contaminated.

On Tuesday, the Kitsap County Health District took a water sample near the castaway diaper, which may have drifted up or been tossed on the Eagle Harbor park’s shore. Test results showed the water contained unhealthy levels of bacteria.

An announcement of the results by the state Department of Ecology led to some concerns that the beach would be closed.

But a second sample taken shortly after the diaper was removed showed the beach’s bacteria levels had returned to normal.

The diaper had essentially created a small “hot spot” near where the samples happened to have been taken.

“It’s quite a nasty thing,” health district water quality specialist Stuart Whitford said of the diaper. “I can’t believe someone would do that, but maybe it popped off some kid.”

The health district has a position on non-potty trained children frolicking on public beaches.

“The health district advises that if a toddler is not toilet trained, they not swim at a public beach,” Whitford said.

Whitford believes the bacteria died off fairly quickly.

“Because it’s saltwater and there was a lot of sunlight, nature took care of the contamination,” he said.

Where NOT to play at Pritchard Park


A recent report on the health risks posed by the Pritchard Park-Wyckoff Superfund site confirms what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been saying for years: the area and its beaches are safe, but not perfectly safe.

The report, which was concluded by the U.S. Department of Health late last month, notes that the park’s forested uplands and most of the west beach, which includes the large stretch of sandy and gravel popular with visitors, are “safe for unlimited normal recreational activities such as hiking, digging, sunbathing, playing ball, etc.”

In other areas, care should be taken – especially for children, who are more easily harmed by the industrial contaminants at the site.

A tidal area of the west beach where sand and rock covers a large plastic sheet should not be disturbed. The sheet separates contaminated sediment below the beach from the clean sand capping the area.

The assessment repeats the EPA warning that children and dogs should not visit the east beach. The east beach is the section of Bill Point that faces Seattle. It is there that toxic creosote is actively seeping from the beach.

“The East Beach is not safe for use by children at this time due to contaminant levels in the
sediment,” the report states.

The report also advises visitors to avoid touching the muddy sediments on Bill Point’s north shoal. The shoal is the tidal section of the beach at the northernmost point of the park directly above the fenced Superfund area.

If you touch the sediments, the report advises hand-washing as a precaution.

I marked the areas of concern in the map above.

You can download a pdf of the report by clicking here.

So, how do you remember where to go and not go next time you visit Pritchard Park?

Speaking only for myself and my family, our general rule of thumb is to keep our shoes on and our hands off the tidal areas. And we steer clear of the east beach (even though it boasts a killer view of the city). Maybe our precautions are a bit much, but considering that the east beach’s contaminants are free-flowing and that the west beach springs creosote leaks from time to time, we figure it’s better to be safe than contaminated.

Water contamination alert for part of south Bainbridge

A break in a water line in the Emerald Heights Water System on Bainbridge Island has triggered a health advisory that calls for 79 water customers to drink bottled water or boil their water before drinking.

The advisory affects customers in the Emerald Heights and Deer Ridge subdivisions plus a few homes along Opal Ridge Road, all near Lynnwood at the south end of the island.

The break occurred while workers were installing a new chlorination device in the water system, according to Caroline Cox of the state Department of Health.

It is likely that the water became contaminated before the break could be repaired, she said, so the entire system is being disinfected. Residents may notice a cloudy appearance in their water.

It is fine to bathe or shower with the water while the health advisory is in place, Cox said, but the water should not be used for drinking by people or pets if there’s a strong chlorine odor or taste. Avoiding putting the water in aquariums until the chlorine odor goes away.

If there is no obvious chlorine, the water can be boiled for one minute then used for drinking, brushing teeth and cooking, Cox said. The advisory is expected to last several days.

For information, customers may call (206) 780-7850.